Archive for July, 2014

Interview for Irish TV by Yasmin Maassarani at the Barbed-Wire Cage launch and footage of a few of the performances- The D-Word, Dollhouse and Chrysalis


It’s taken me 10 days to catch my breath after the big night! I started a new job in Dublin that week, so I make no apologies for the very necessary hiatus.
Friday 4th of July, Independence Day, 5.45 pm, and I and my valiant Toyota Yaris were battling a path Cavan-bound through the raging traffic of Pinnock Hill roundabout, Airside, Swords. The deluge was relentless as we struggled on, my cherry-red Epiphone SG de-tuning itself in the boot. The odds were against us as time raced onwards on the dashboard clock. The protests of my phone became more and more urgent with each passing minute, but at 7.30, I and my amazing design team finally arrived in Blessings bar.
Armed with candles, fairy-lights, posters and rose petals, my buddies got to work transforming the side yard stage into punk rock heaven. Meanwhile I got busy freaking out as people began to arrive and I hadn’t my soundcheck done, or my make-up done, my car was in a no-park zone two streets away and the TV crew were ready to roll at any moment.    Quarter to nine arrived and I was no closer to being ready than I was when I’d rolled out of bed at 5.30 that morning.

The crowd began to swell, and soon there were more than sixty people milling around the rustic rock and roll beer garden, waiting for something to happen.  As well they might wait.  I hadn’t a clue how the equipment worked, nor had I set up a book and CD stand, and I hadn’t rehearsed the poem Frank for weeks.  This was going to be an unmitigated disaster.

Luckily, I was aided by some of the greatest people I’ve ever been lucky enough to meet.  My friends rallied around, calmed me down, fixed my make-up and set up my guitars, while the amazing poet Ted Mc Carthy, who was launching the book and CD, managed to convince me it was all going to go just fine, as he and the night’s brilliant MC, Mark, were going over the breakdown of the night.  My family took over management of the book and CD stand, which, truth be told, was  the only reason I sold a single copy.  They’re obviously experts at merchandising.

It was after 9.30pm when I was ready for off, but luckily no one seemed to mind.  The crowd included a busload (and a few carloads) of the Fermanagh Writers group, Cavan Writers Forum, my amazing friends and wonderful family, who came from Crosskeys, Ballinagh, Killashandra and even Galway to show their support!

Ted kicked off proceedings with a mind-blowing and very undeserved introduction to Barbed-Wire Cage, then, somehow, randomly, it was time.  I’ve never been so sick with nerves in my whole life, but then I had never done anything quite as important as releasing my first book prior to this.  I guess it wasn’t all that odd, considering, that I forgot the lines to my opening poem Chrysalis, and had to be handed a copy to read it from, though just a teensy bit mortifying.  That was not repeated with the following poem, Atlantis in Technicolor. I knew that one too well.

That had been simple, though.  Now came the hard part- the simultaneous poetry/ music performance.  A friend had warned me prior to going on I would mess up the first music piece- he was right.  Gatecrashing came first and line one of stanza two began with a D chord rather than a B chord, but I’m not sure how many people noticed that.  I hope I covered it OK.  I followed it with DollhouseThe D-Word and Given (which sounded clearer and smoother than it had done in weeks, but much to my chagrin was omitted from the broadcast- apparently F-bombs aren’t appropriate before the watershed!).  I was afforded a brief breather from guitar to perform Would’Ya, which was followed by performances of MarkerPortrait of the Artist as a Tabby-Cat and Drizzle, which were all read to perfection by my sisters Deborah and Caroline, and my wonderful MC Mark.  The Burning Man came next, when it was once again time to read, then my beautiful aquamarine acoustic guitar Frank, who has been by my side for nine years, through it all, made his first appearance of the night for Kaput and his namesake, Frank.  Unfortunately I messed up a bit on the latter, but I made it across the finish line and there was no turning back.

Still sick with nerves and shaking, I welcomed the end of my part of the night, and got a chance to enjoy the Independence Night poetry slam.  Ted started off with some theme-appropriate pieces from American poets (Here Follows Some Verses upon the Burning of Our House, July 10th 1666, Never Again Would Bird’s Song Be the Same, The Mirror) and some of his own lyrically genius pieces (Names, Muckross, Brooch, Gall, Caldragh in April and Eyes).  Members of Cavan Writers Forum and Fermanagh Writers shared vivid and highly gripping performances of their own Declarations of Independence.

Huge thanks to Cillian and Valerie and the staff at Blessings for all their hard work setting the stage up, for allowing us to wreck their beer garden and for the free Malibu and Club Lemon!  I forgot to mention on the night that a percentage of the proceeds will go to Kitten Cottage, as well as a brand new pair of Vans sneakers.

The evening finished with the incredible Barbed-Wire Cage cake, created by my sister Caroline, made from red velvet cake and ruby-red icing, topped with the book and album covers and adorned with black-icing barbed-wire.  Needless to say, the cake was short-lived!  After the remaining crumbs were brought back to Oldcastle Road for breakfast the following morning, and we’d gotten a chance to savour the last dying sparks of the night, it was time to wrap up and make the journey to Kempton Court for a much-needed sleep that would last most of the following day.


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(Photography by Amy Doran)